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mark of Frederick the Great, that if he wished to punish a province, he would allow it to be governed by the philosophers. It is a great misfortune for the country when the practical politician and the doctrinaire have no point in common, but the misfortune is, if anything, greatest for the doctrinaire.1
“COMPROMISE" is so often used in a bad sense that it is difficult to remember that properly it merely describes the process of reaching an agreement. Naturally there are certain subjects on which no man can compromise. For instance, there must be no compromise under any circumstances with official corruption, and of course no man should hesitate to say as much. Again, an honest politician is entirely justified in promising on the stump that he will make no compromise on any question of right and wrong. This promise he can and ought to make good. But when questions of policy arise - and most questions, from the tariff to municipal ownership of public utilities and the franchise tax, are primarily questions of policy — he will have to come to some kind of working agreement with his fellows, and if he says that he will not, he either deliberately utters what he knows to be false, or else he insures for himself the humiliation of being forced to break his word. No decent politician need compromise in any way save as Washington and Lincoln did. He need not go nearly as far as Hamilton, Jefferson, and Jackson went; but some dis
1 From American Ideals. Copyright, 1897. G. P. Putnam's Sons, New York and London, publishers.
tance he must go if he expects to accomplish anything."
V ONLY peoples capable, not merely of mastering others, but of mastering themselves, can achieve real liberty, can achieve real self-government.”
1 From The Strenuous Life. Copyright, 1900. The Century Company, publishers.
* Remarks at the Dinner of the Periodical Publishers' Association of America, Washington, D.C., April 7, 1904.
JUST GOVERNMENT — THE BASIS OF
I. GOVERNMENT AND BUSINESS
I NOTHING needs closer attention, nothing deserves to be treated with more courage, caution, and sanity, than the relations of the State to corporate wealth, and indeed to vast individual wealth. For almost every gain there is a penalty, and the great strides in the industrial upbuilding of the country, which have on the whole been attended with marked benefit, have also been attended by no little evil. Great fortunes are usually made under very complex conditions both of effort and of surroundings, and the mere fact of the complexity makes it difficult to deal with the new conditions thus created. The contrast offered in a highly specialized industrial community between the very rich and the very poor is exceedingly distressing, and while under normal conditions the acquirement of wealth by an individual is necessarily of great incidental benefit to the community as a whole, yet this is by no means always the case. In our great cities there is plainly in evidence much wealth contrasted with much poverty, and some of the wealth has been acquired, or is used, in a manner for which there is no moral justification.
A profound political and social thinker has recently
written: "Wealth which is expended in multiplying and elaborating real comforts, or even in pleasures which produce enjoyment at all proportionate to their cost, will never excite serious indignation. It is the colossal waste of the means of human happiness in the most selfish and most vulgar forms of social advertisement and competition that gives a force to passions which menace the whole future of our civilization." But in continuance this writer points out that the only effectual check lies in the law of public opinion. Any attempt to interfere by statute in moral questions of this kind, by fettering the freedom of individual action, would be injurious to a degree far greater than is the evil aimed at. Probably the large majority of the fortunes that now exist in this country have been amassed, not by injuring mankind, but as an incident to the conferring of great benefits on the community - whatever the conscious purpose of those amassing them may have been. The occasional wrongs committed or injuries endured are on the whole far outweighed by the mass of good which has resulted. The true questions to be asked are: Has any given individual been injured by the acquisition of wealth by any man? Were the rights of that individual, if they have been violated, insufficiently protected by law? If so, these rights, and all similar rights, ought to be guaranteed by additional legislation. The point to be aimed at is the protection of the individual against wrong, not the attempt to limit and hamper the acquisition and output of wealth.
It is almost equally dangerous either to blink evils and refuse to acknowledge their existence, or to strike at them in a spirit of ignorant revenge, thereby doing far
more harm than is remedied. The need can be met only by careful study of conditions, and by action which while taken boldly and without hesitation is neither heedless nor reckless. It is well to remember on the one hand that the adoption of what is reasonable in the demands of reformers is the surest way to prevent the adoption of what is unreasonable, and on the other hand that many of the worst and most dangerous laws which have been put upon statute books have been put there by zealous reformers with excellent intentions.
This problem has a hundred phases. The relation of the capitalist and the wage-worker makes one; the proper attitude of the State toward extreme poverty another; the proper attitude of the State toward the questions of the ownership and running of so-called "public utilities," a third. But among all these phases, the one which at this time has the greatest prominence, is the question of what are commonly termed “trusts, meaning by the name those vast combinations of capital, usually flourishing by virtue of some monopolistic element, which have become so startlingly common a feature in the industrial revolution which has progressed so rapidly during recent years.
The machinery of modern business is so vast and complicated that great caution must be exercised in introducing radical changes for fear the unforeseen effects may take the shape of widespread disaster. Moreover, much that is complained about is not really the abuse so much as the inevitable development of our modern industrial life. We have moved far away from the old simple days when each community transacted almost all its work for itself and relied upon outsiders for but a frac